“PATIENCE HATH A PERFECT WORK.”
To be in tribulation in this world is a great sign of predestination. “To be afflicted here on earth,” says St. Gregory, “belongs to the elect for whom is reserved the beatitude of eternity.” Hence we find in the Lives of the Saints that all, without exception, had been loaded with crosses.
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation for when he hath been proved he shall receive the crown of life (James i. 12). This thought made St. Agapitus, Martyr, a boy of fifteen years, say, when the tyrant ordered his head to be encompassed with burning coals: “It is very little to bear the burning of my head, which shall be crowned with glory in Heaven.” This thought made Job exclaim: If we have received good things at the hand of God, why should we not receive evil? (Job 10). Yes, if we have gladly received good things, why should we not also receive with greater joy temporal evils, by which we shall acquire the eternal goods of Paradise? This thought also filled with jubilation the hermit found singing in a wood though his body was so covered with ulcers that his flesh was falling to pieces. When asked if it were he who was singing, he said: Yes, I sing, and I have reason to sing; for between me and God there is nothing but the filthy wall of my body. I now see it falling to pieces, and therefore I sing, because I see that the time is at hand when I shall go to enjoy my Lord. This thought made St. Francis of Assisi say: “So great is the good which I expect, that to me every pain gives delight.” In a word, the Saints feel consoled when they are in tribulation, and are afflicted when they enjoy earthly consolations. We read in the Teresian Chronicles that in reciting these words of the Office: When wilt thou comfort me? (Ps. cxviii. 82) Mother Isabella of the Angels used to say them so fast that she would anticipate the other Sisters. Being asked why she did so, she answered: “I am afraid that God may give me comfort in this life.”
To be in tribulation in this world is a great sign of predestination. “To be afflicted here below,” says St. Gregory, “belongs to the elect, for whom is reserved the beatitude of eternity.” Hence we find in the Lives of the Saints, that all, without exception, have been loaded with crosses. This is precisely what St. Jerome wrote to the virgin Eustochia: “Seek,” says the holy Doctor, “and you shall find that every Saint has been subject to tribulations: Solomon, alone, lived in the midst of delights, and therefore perhaps he was lost.” The Apostle has said that all the predestined must be found like to Jesus Christ: Whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be made conformable to the image of his Son (Rom. viii. 29). But the life of Jesus Christ was a life of continual suffering; hence the same Apostle says: Yet so if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him (Rom. viii. 17). If we suffer with Jesus Christ we shall also be glorified with Jesus Christ.
But we shall not be glorified with Him unless we suffer with patience like our Saviour, who when he was reviled did not revile; when he suffered he threatened not (1 Pet. ii. 23). St. Gregory says that as to suffer with patience is a mark of predestination, so to suffer with impatience is a presage of damnation. Hence the Lord tells us that we shall attain to salvation only by suffering with patience: In your patience you shall possess your souls (Luke xxi. 19). And let us be persuaded that God sends us tribulations only because He seeks our welfare. By them He wishes to detach us from earthly pleasures, which may occasion the loss of our eternal salvation.